Archbishop Andrew Chan, Primate of the Anglican Province of Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, offers an Easter message of joy and hope.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Allelujah, the Lord is risen! The Lord is risen, indeed, Allelujah!
Happy Easter, brothers and sisters!
Today we celebrate this important day with joyful hearts. This day is extremely important not only for Christian communities because in the history of humankind, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a watershed moment. Jesus was nailed to the cross several days before Easter and became a sacrificial lamb for all of humanity, manifesting the most mysterious love to complete his project of salvation. He seemed to have been overpowered by evil at that time, but today God enabled him to defeat the forces of the devil and sin and conquer death. Humanity and the universe are no longer under the power of darkness and evil. This great act proved that the Triune God is the true God who created heaven and earth. His power is real and his promises never fail. The resurrection of Jesus brings new light to humankind. The sins of those who believe in him are forgiven and their lives are renewed and changed. Our darkness is transformed into light, our wounds are healed, and we can remain steadfast in times of despair because we know that our Lord is risen, Allelujah!
The Gospel of John Chapter 20 started its description of the morning of Jesus’ resurrection with the words “early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark”. “It was still dark” describes the dawn but it also reflects our experiences over the past year. As the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the world, our days were filled with darkness. Our daily lives and daily rhythms were disrupted: students have been attending classes via video conferencing software for over a year, and some adults have been working from home. In order to maintain social distancing, we have refrained from gathering with friends and family, and we could not worship together in public. Many people have felt exceptionally isolated, lonely, and helpless, and we must not forget that tens of millions of people are still suffering physically and mentally from COVID-19 infections. Many have lost friends and families to the disease and were only able to say their farewells to their departing loved ones through video chats. The pandemic has also affected the livelihoods of many. The rate of unemployment in Hong Kong is at its highest for the past seventeen years. The bustling streets are now empty. We thought that with the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines, the pandemic would be brought under control. However the situation continues to fluctuate, leaving us perplexed and helpless. Indeed, “it is still dark”!
While “it was still dark”, Mary Magdalene risked her life and bravely overcame her fears to reach the tomb of Jesus because she wanted to do something for him – to give him an appropriate burial. But what appeared before her was not a lifeless body but an empty tomb, because Jesus had been resurrected! A miracle had happened! Jesus overcame death and conquered darkness to become the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Everything was now within his power. In him humanity was reconciled with God, and the earth was united with heaven. He is the God of history, only in him can we attain peace, abundance, and hope.
When Jesus appeared before Mary Magdalene she did not recognize him at first, which is not surprising. But when he called her name with kindness, mercy, and concern, she knew that the Lord was risen. What lay before her was no longer despair and fear but light, a future, and peace. In the Lord she found hope. Dear brothers and sisters, where do you find your sense of security today? Where do you find hope? In Mary’s story, we see Jesus coming before a person full of fear and helplessness to grant her peace. Today, although we are still in darkness, the resurrected Lord is already before us. Out of love for us, he willingly gave us his power and blessing. His love and presence is more powerful than our fear.
The pandemic will overshadow our lives for some time to come but do not let your faith in life and in Jesus Christ be shaken by the ever-changing outside influences. Our faith is based on the reliable and unchangeable God and is rooted in Jesus Christ who promises to walk with us. In God we have the courage, patience, and confidence to face the rough road ahead and experience the mysterious guidance of God in this path of trial and tribulation.
Aside from singing praises to God and proclaiming the resurrection that happened two millennia ago, more importantly, we have to build a deep relationship with the eternally living Jesus. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can understand that the God of the past is the same God who walks with us today. When people are ready to experience the victory, grace, and strength brought by the living resurrection, we will feel the power and truth of the risen Lord. St Peter said “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). It is this hope that enables us to change our bad habits and shortcomings; to pursue a life of holiness; and to prompt us to build harmonious and vital human relationships.
The Lord is risen! The Lord is risen, indeed! Allelujah! In the resurrected Lord everything in us is renewed and imbued with abundant life.
May the victorious Jesus Christ bless you all.